13 November 2012

Africa Must Look East for Its Solutions


• What contributes to China's rise?

China's Rise', 'China Road', 'China's Mode', 'China's Stories', 'China's Experience' and 'China's Wonder' are all terms that reflect just one topic - China's unprecedented and extraordinary social and economic growth.

China's historic achievements have arrested international attention. European scholars and politicians including former USA Foreign Secretary Henry Kissinger point out that China's peaceful development has demolished dominant Western theory that the 'Western Mode' is the only social and economic development mode.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Gillani, some Mexican economists and many African leaders and scholars claim the 'China mode' has made a great contribution to the process of human civilization and sets a good example for developing countries to follow in their efforts of nation building and the upliftment of people's livelihoods.

Nobody denies that along its development road, China did not involve itself in any war, any colonisation, any threat to the existing order, and any overseas exploitation, making a sharp contrast with the Western powers' growth which was accompanied by guns and cannons, which again demolishes an evil-driven implication that China seeks global hegemony.

As a rising star shining on the international stage, China has played more and more important roles in international affairs. In today's international affairs, China's presence cannot be ignored.

The international community has reached consensus that it is difficult to talk about world politics or development economics today without some reference to China entering the analysis. It is against this background that political leaders, economists, philosophers, historians across the world and academic institutions like the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Stellenbosch, the University of Pretoria, the University of Nairobi and other African universities establish China study centres to read China, to know China, to study China and to put their focus on China.

In particular, Westerners, especially politicians, are starting to look at China with new perspectives in that China's quick rise, which is outside of their expectations, has created another admiring wonder in civilized human development.

Many American scholars contribute to the discourse on 'China's rise' to one capital 'A' and four small a's. Capital 'A' stands for 'Ability' whereas the 4 small a's stand for accumulation ability, assimilation ability, accommodation ability and adaptation ability.

German and Asian scholars echo the same sentiments to support this statement. Others agree that China's Communist Party, the mainstream ideological organization in China's political life, is the pivotal role player in China's own development in that China's Communist Party makes it its top priority to serve the Chinese people and to meet the core interests of the Chinese people by its meticulously and collectively worked-out economic and social development blueprints, namely the 5-year development plan and other guiding outlines.

There is still some other claim that China's economic development is closely interwoven with its political reform system which functions as a tower of light guiding her social-economic growth. Chinese traditional culture, however, in my humble opinion, especially its cultural core values are the main contributors to China's outstanding socio-economic achievements which have resulted in convincing improvements in Chinese livelihoods, social coherence and harmony, powerful national might, advanced educational systems and increasing international influence, among others.

As the most important cultural value in Chinese culture - collectivism has made tremendous contributions to China's rise.

Confucian philosophy emphasizes the interdependence between individuals and groups, and places more weight on the interests of the group, the community and more importantly the nation.

This culture runs against Western individualist culture in which individualist interests take the premier place prevailing over the interests of the group, the community and even the nation. 'Long-term plan' is a very important part of collectivist culture. 'Looking into the future' has long been a development philosophy in China's nation building.

A convincing example of this is that Chinese collectivism has secured China against the world financial crises, which also revealed the weakness of the Western socio-economic and political systems. Today, Western governments, especially the Obama administration started following Chinese philosophy and wisdom in an attempt to resolve their current problems and troubles their own systems have created.

Furthermore, Chinese collectivism seeks collective and common prosperity. In 2007, China timeously adapted its 'few getting rich' policy and made tremendous efforts to reduce poverty and to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor, which draws a sharp contrast with capitalism, materialism and the greed of individualism, which is the main cause of passion killings in Namibia as frequently reported in the local media.

Chinese collectivism persists in its pursuit of harmony and development internally while pursuing peaceful development externally in order to create harmonious environments for social and economic development. Harmony between the people, nations and even between human beings and nature are one of the core values of Chinese culture.

In Africa, we need such a harmonious culture to facilitate African social and economic growth. However, due to the embrace of Western values and social and political systems, Africa has failed to produce such infrastructure. As the poorest continent, Africa's backward social and economic development so far evidences the fact that the wholly copied Western system of democracy, administration, etc. by Africans has not benefited but ruined Africa. Such culture has not brought about a better life for Africans, nor has it helped Africans to get rid of poverty and to secure economic independence.

Instead, the African people still live under the roof of empty or vacuum democracy, political infighting, tribalism, tribal killings, which simply ignore the majority interests of the African people or the African community or African nations.

In addition, the so-called Western universal human rights theory has excited quite many Africans who become fonder of human rights activities including labour strikes like the increasing culture of strikes in Namibia in recent times, for example. The World Economic Forum Index has labeled Africa as the most contentious continent when it comes to employer-labour relations with Namibia and South Africa ranking nearly the lowest. This has flung African people further from their efforts in the advancement of their own social and economic development, which is the core interest of the people. The problems experienced by Africans imply that, as African philosophers and politicians claim, Africa needs more patriots to serve its communities or the nation's interests and should reinvest Africa's own culture of Ubuntu since Westernization has failed Africa.

China, on the contrary, did not follow or copy Western democracy or their political system but adhered to its own growth mode and social and political system. This is because Chinese culture, history and geography, etc. do not spare an inch of land for Western democracy or political systems to grow. It is also because Western cultures and values are in conflict with Chinese religions and worldviews.

Li Ao, a famous Chinese scholar from a Taiwan university stated: If we want to ruin China, let China adopt Western democracy. What an insightful statement! China's own democratic system, a key contributor to China's rise, has laid a strong and sound foundation to facilitate its social and economic growth. China's rise is a great contribution to the international community in terms of social, economic and political development, especially for developing countries.

'Looking East' is a very popular slogan among both the developed and developing worlds. They rely on China for their economic development. According to its recently released 'white paper', the Australian government regards China as its key partner to grow its economy.

In a similar vein, the South African Trade Minister said China plays a key role in South Africa's economic growth. Taking China as a good example, Africa will find out her own way to tackle her own problems.

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